On a gorgeous Tuesday night in Conyers, Georgia, the Georgia Revolution hosted the Atlanta Silverbacks in the Second Round U.S. Open Cup matchup. Dubbed the “Battle for Atlanta,” the Atlanta Silverbacks advanced to the Third Round of the US Open Cup with a 3-2 win in a game of many chances and drama.
The contest was a rematch from the Second Round a year ago in which the Silverbacks also prevailed by a single goal, moving on with a 1-0 road victory courtesy of Raphael Cox strike in the 61st minute.
The visiting Silverbacks couldn’t have started Tuesday’s “Battle For Atlanta” any better, going up 1-0 in the fourth minute. After a poor headed clearance by Revolution defender Michael Nwiloh, Silverbacks forward Ruben Luna capitalized with a strong volley into the corner of the net from 20 yards out.
The Revolution came back and equalized in the 16th minute with a quick counter attack when forward Kwadwo Poku, who tallied a hat-trick last week, played Iain Smith through on goal. The midfielder converted beautifully, sneaking a shot inside the near post to tie the game at 1-1.
The Silverbacks had a disallowed goal in the 29th minute when a tap-in from Silverbacks midfielder Horace James was called back for offside. Minutes later, the Silverbacks would have another chance to retake the lead when Mike Randolph was pulled down in the penalty area, earning a kick from the spot.
Ruben Luna was chosen to take the penalty and he blasted it into the right corner to make it 2-1 in the 31st minute.
The Revolution came out for the second half with a renewed focus on the attack in an attempt to find the tying goal, but the Silverbacks doubled their advantage. Pablo Cruz connected on a pass from midfielder Milton Blanco from over 20 yards out to make it 3-1 in the 57th minute.
In the 61st drama unfolded when the Silverbacks bench was warned for dissent. A few seconds later, a Silverbacks assistant coach was ejected from the game.
After play continued, the Revolution would immediately strike a surprising goal as midfielder Rene Enang converted on a low shot through traffic. With about 30 minutes left, the Revolution were looking to equalize while the Silverbacks were doing everything to deny scoring chances.
The best chance to equalize came in stoppage time when Revolution substitute midfielder Ibrahima Sissoko saw a ball fall to his feet at the top of the box, but he blasted the wide open shot over the bar from 12 yards out.
The Silverbacks will face a tougher challenge next week as they will travel to play Real Salt Lake, who are sitting near the top of the Major League Soccer table. Last year, the Silverbacks were embarrassed by the Seattle Sounders in the Third Round, 5-1, and will be looking to show some improvement on that result.
SILVERBACKS LINEUP: GK Nasco, D Bloom, D Navarro, D Reiss, D Randolph, M Menjivar, M Blanco, M Barrera, M James (Willis 67’), M Cruz (Uribe 80’), F Luna (Gulley 61’)
REVOLUTION LINEUP: GK Kramer, D Davis (Redding 85’), D Nicholson, D Nwiloh, D Papanikolopoulos, M DeBoer (Landberg 61’), M Enang, M Smith (Sissoko 74’), F Poku, F Sumpter, F Maduka